First Published: 2004-10-14

Spain urges new UN resolution on WSahara

Spanish FM says new UN resolution on Western Sahara should restart process of resolving its status.


Middle East Online

Madrid trying to help find a solution to Western Sahara issue

TANGIERS, Morocco - A new UN resolution on Western Sahara should give new impetus to efforts to finally resolve the status of the former Spanish territory that was annexed by Morocco in 1975, Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Moratinos said Wednesday.

"It won't be easy, certain parties want to keep the resolution more technical. But we want a resolution that gathers as much of a consensus as possible and allows the United Nations ... to work towards relaunching the process" of resolving the status of Western Sahara, he said.

Morocco annexed neighboring Western Sahara on its independence from Spain in 1975 despite a World Court ruling in favour of autonomy for the territory.

UN efforts to resolve the situation have stalled since Morocco refused a plan drawn up by its special envoy, former US secretary of state James Baker.

The UN Security Council unanimously backed last year the so-called Baker plan under which Western Sahara would enjoy a large degree of autonomy during a five-year transition period followed by a referendum on self-rule.

Moratinos said the resolution should be finished so it could be considered by the Security Council at meeting scheduled later this month and allow UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy to the region, Alvaro De Soto, to "create a new dynamic" in efforts to find a solution.

The issue has returned to the forefront after South Africa last month extended diplomatic recognition to Western Sahara, or the Sahrawi Republic of Western Sahara.

Speaking during a visit to Tunisia on Wednesday, South African President Thabo Mbeki said it was the UN that would need to take the lead in solving the issue of Western Sahara.

"We are all in agreement of leaving the problem of Western Sahara in the hands of the secretary general of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan," said Mbeki.

The question of Western Sahara has strained relations between Morocco and neighbor Algeria, which backed the Polisario Front movement seeking independence for the territory bordering the Atlantic between Mauritania and Morocco.


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